Kamal Kirkuki [c] has deployed Peshmerga forces near the oil-rich and disputed city of Kirkuk in the early hours of Thursday, October 19, 2017. Photo: Rudaw TV
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdish Peshmerga have been deployed to areas near Kirkuk in the early hours of Thursday, as a Peshmerga commander says that the time to liberate the oil-rich city is close.
“The brave Peshmerga are fully prepared...just as we defeated ISIS, the Hashd al-Shaabi and those who support them, will be null, and come under the feet of Kurdistan,” Kamal Kirkuki, the commander of the western front of Kirkuk told Rudaw from the front line.
The Hashd al-Shaabi are Iraqi paramilitary units who are backed by Iran. They had entered the disputed area of Kirkuk this week.
“The time will come,” he said, when asked about the time to launch the Kirkuk operation.
Displaced people from Kirkuk had sought shelter in Erbil and Sulaimani with some of those remaining protesting the presence of the Hashd.
“As for the liberation of Kirkuk and the entire Kurdistan, it is coming and we will be victorious,” he added.
Kirkuki, who has deployed a large Kurdish Peshmerga force, said that the uprising of the Kurdish people in Khanaqin and other areas--where the Hashd al-Shaabi has already withdrawn, proved that the people want their votes back.
“This proves the result of the referendum, for independence of Kurdistan, that they oppose invasion and being slaves,” he said. “They want freedom and independence.”
Baghdad opposed the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum that was held on September 25. In particular, they objected to the disputed territories like Kirkuk being included in the vote.
“We are sure that Kirkuk will score victory,” said Kirkuki.
Last updated at 8:17 a.m.